Interim City Attorney George Cardona announced his resignation on Aug. 27, becoming the latest in a series of pandemic-era leadership departures that include two city managers, a fire chief, police chief, library director and transportation chief.

Cardona will be exiting his role to become Chief Trial Counsel leading the Office of Chief Trial Counsel for the State Bar of California. City Council will consider an interim appointment at an upcoming meeting and will then begin a formal recruitment process for a permanent attorney.

“We are grateful for Interim City Attorney George Cardona’s leadership and public service over the last year and a half,” said Mayor Sue Himmelrich. “He is an incredibly talented lawyer who we will miss.”

In his new position, Cardona will prosecute disciplinary matters and have an annual salary of $284,000, which is not significantly different from his current pay rate.

“The Board strongly supports George, and we look forward to working with him as we continue efforts to strengthen the discipline system, ensuring that the State Bar fulfills its public protection mission effectively and fairly,” said Board Chair Sean SeLegue. “George has devoted his career to public service and brings significant prosecutorial and management experience, legal talent, and a reputation for absolute integrity to this critical role.”

Cardona took over the position of Interim City Attorney in April 2020, when then City Attorney Lane Dilg was appointed the position of Interim City Manager following Rick Cole’s resignation. Dilg exited her role as Interim City Manager in June and John Jalili is holding the position on an interim basis until David White takes over on Oct. 11.

Prior to becoming Interim City Attorney, Cardona served as the City’s Special Counsel/Chief of Staff for three years. Before coming to the City of Santa Monica, Cardona held leadership positions for almost two decades in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.

He will be bringing his combination of prosecutorial skills at both the federal and municipal level to his new position at the California State Bar.

“I am humbled and honored to join the Office of Chief Trial Counsel at this important time,” said Cardona. “When people need help with a legal issue, they place their trust in their attorney’s competence and ethics. The State Bar’s mission is to safeguard that trust, and I can think of no job more important than that.”

Cardona has been connected with the California Bar Association for several years, having served as a member of its Rules Revision Commission from 2015 through 2018. During this time he helped create revision recommendations for the Rules of Professional Conduct that were later adopted by the Supreme Court.

Cardona received his B.A. in Physics from Yale in 1982 and his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1986. He has been a faculty member at UCLA Law School since 2000 and currently teaches Criminal Trial Advocacy.

Clara@smdp.com